The ‘fast’ way to help your heart?
Cultures all over the world engage in periodic fasting, mostly for religious reasons – and it appears there may be health benefits as well. In a recent analysis published in “Circulation,” the American Heart Association found evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting may help adults lose weight and lower triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, at least in the short term.
Benefits (and risks) of eating less
In addition to short-term weight loss and lower triglyceride levels, the report’s authors found that intermittent fasting might also help lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, but cautioned that those studies were small and that reductions were associated with how much weight the studies’ participants lost.
Of course, fasting diets can be a bit extreme. They usually follow one of these patterns:
■ Fasting a few days a week.
■ Cutting calories by 75 percent on alternating days.
■ Skipping one meal each day.
Reducing calories in some groups, such as older adults, can have a downside, the authors note. So talk with your doctor before you give it a try.
A better plan?
Fasting diets are becoming increasingly popular, but if you don’t think you’re disciplined enough to give up a meal or cut calories so significantly, you might get similar benefits just from being more mindful.
The authors, who also analyzed research on how meal timing and frequency affect weight loss, concluded that planning both what you eat and when could be easy, effective weight-loss tools that make you less prone to mid-afternoon vending machine runs or dinner times spent in the drive-through.
Your heart is on their minds
If you have a heart issue, your primary care doctor will most likely refer you to one of two different types of cardiologists.
Non-invasive, or general, cardiologists typically work with patients to determine what is wrong with the heart. A non-invasive cardiologist performs diagnostic testing such as treadmill tests or echocardiograms and determines the best course of treatment.
Interventional cardiologists receive one to two years additional training in treating cardiovascular disease using catheters. By inserting these tubes into blood